BBQ is king, but Gibson’s Donuts is still Memphis royalty

Memphis, Tenn. — There are donuts and then there are Gibson’s donuts.

Whether it’s the traditional lightt, airy, yet-somehow-still-heavy-with-flavor glaze, or the often head-turning crispy bacon lodged on top of a melt-in-your-mouth maple glaze, there is something for everyone.

The neon sign and line outside the door make it clear: Gibson’s is a Memphis institution.

But don’t let the wait scare you. Owner Don DeWeese will take care of you, especially if you are a newcomer.

“First timer, here you go buddy, yeah,” says DeWeese.

People flock to Gibson’s donuts every single day as if the pied pipers are walking them toward the sweet, decadent treats.

DeWeese told FOX13 he became the owner in 1996. He said most of the recipes are exactly the same as when the store opened in 1968, but he admits to making a few tweaks.

“We let the dough rise three times when nobody else does that, we use more yeast than the recipe calls for, that makes them lighter and airier, so when you pick ours up it’s not dense,” says DeWeese.

DeWeese allowed FOX13 to step behind the front counter and into where all of the real work happens.

The small kitchen runs 24 hours a day on three shifts making donuts. Glazed is the biggest seller.

Everything in the case on a Friday, won’t last an hour.

The bakers moved through the kitchen with ease, each knowing what needs to be done to get the donuts on the shelves.

“There are four dozen on each screen, 80 screens so that’s a lot of donuts. On this tray, how many of these trays have you done, probably 100, over 50 trays. Over 50 trays,” DeWeese said.

Business booms on the weekends, in fact, DeWeese said whether it’s the glazed, chocolate, blueberry, or 40 other flavors, all are fan favorites.

He said to make this many yummy pastries, it always takes a little bit of skill.

The technique is mastered and the job can be hard. But, when you come to a place every day and do exactly what makes you happy, it never feels like work, “How lucky and blessed I am, how lucky and blessed I am think about every single day.”

It’s a blessing Don said he’s always shared.

There’s a reason he allows all fire, police, and sheriff deputies to eat free while on duty and gives most non-profits a discount.

“Takers eat well, givers sleep well and that right there tells it all.”

Gibson’s in Memphis is the largest single-owner donut shop in the country, so when the craving hits you, the shop that never sleeps will be open and ready. “In my wildest dreams, I never in my life, growing up in Philadelphia, Mississippi thinks I would have what I have now,” said DeWeese.

So, if your sweet tooth is calling, you can satisfy your craving at any time of the day.

Don’t believe the hype? Just ask Food Network’s Alton Brown, who calls Gibson’s donut’s the best in America

Gibson is located at 760 Mount Moriah in Memphis.